UK Football

UK looks for help at receiver

Here's a solution that would fix the problems in the University of Kentucky passing game. Let Randall Cobb take the snap at quarterback, throw the ball up in the air, then zoom downfield to catch his own pass.

It sounds nice, but in reality, it's a genie-in-a-bottle type of wish. The 5-foot-11 185-pounder will help Kentucky's suddenly depleted wide receivers unit, but with Cobb also expected to be a bigger factor at quarterback, other players will have to help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Dicky Lyons Jr.

Cobb dismissed the notion of being a savior to the receiver position in light of Lyons' injury.

"It's not all about one person," Cobb said. "Other receivers have to get other receivers open. Maybe, on some plays, I can hold some defenders to open some other receivers. We've just all got to make the plays and catch the ball."

One player who will see extended time is freshman Aaron Boyd, who has played sparingly in four games this season. UK Coach Rich Brooks was critical of Boyd for his practice habits a couple of weeks ago, but the Henry Clay product has apparently been doing better. And, as offensive coordinator Joker Phillips noted, what do they have to lose?

"He's made some progress and is starting to practice harder," Phillips said. "And also, why not (play Boyd)? He still continues to make mistakes, but he's catching the football so why not try him?"

Brooks said at his Monday press conference that Boyd doesn't possess blazing speed and often has trouble separating from defenders unless he goes 100 percent all the time. But Boyd had four passes thrown his way this season, and he's caught all four of them.

"That's the one thing he does," Brooks said. "When he's had opportunities to make catches, he's made them, and that can carry you a long way in our receiving corps."

Boyd said his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame can help him establish separation.

"Sometimes you have to throw a DB off you, or maybe a guy's trying to put his hands on you, and you throw them off and mess up his whole form, which allows you to break free on him," Boyd said. "Speed is a big factor, but knowing how to use your body and hands is also a big factor."

Phillips said fellow freshmen Eric Adeyemi and Gene McCaskill are also in line to move up the depth chart. And junior DeMoreo Ford is set to return after missing the South Carolina game because of an injury to his shoulder on a 48-yard touchdown catch at Alabama. That was Ford's only catch of the season, but Phillips welcomes the veteran savvy and toughness that Ford brings to the table.

"He'll compete," Phillips said of Ford. "He'll jump in your face and block you, and that gives him a chance to run past some people."

With sophomore Kyrus Lanxter expected to miss the game with shoulder and knee injuries, junior E.J. Adams is the only other veteran in the rotation besides Ford.

Adams, who moved from cornerback last year, said he'll try to be a steadying influence with Lyons gone.

"I've only been at receiver for a year, but I've been in the program and have playing experience, so I need to be accountable for a lot of these freshmen," Adams said. "Dicky's always been accountable for us, and it felt kind of weird being in the huddle without him and without his presence. The young guys need someone to keep them grounded and playing hard, so I'm going to do what I can to help them stay focused."

Brooks and Phillips acknowledged that Cobb is probably their most talented receiver. But in addition to playing quarterback and receiver, Cobb will also replace Lyons as the top punt returner. Brooks wants to be careful not to overtax Cobb.

"His body's as sore as it's ever been," Brooks said. "Welcome to the SEC. That's what happens when you're a prominent player, whether you're at receiver or at quarterback, and you start getting hit a lot. You've got to understand he's a young freshman. He's not big in stature. I think he's got a big heart and a lot of ability, but we have to be smart about how we use him."

Cobb said he's just going to have to get used to that sore feeling that comes with multitasking in big-time college football.

"That was my wake-up call telling me that I'm actually playing in the SEC," Cobb said. "From here on out, I'm going to feel like that on Sundays. Whenever I wake up, I just have to get my organizer out to see where I'm at during the day. My organizer's pretty full. Between classes and football and looking at film and trying to have a little bit of a social life, too, there's a lot you have to stay focused on."

Phillips said a couple of defensive backs have already campaigned to help out at receiver. Cornerback David Jones has played receiver in the past. And cornerback Trevard Lindley seems like a natural with his hands, anticipation and playmaking ability.

When asked about Lindley, Phillips said, "I'd love to have him. I like the guys I've got, no question about that, but if I had a chance to get Trevard, who's made a lot of plays around here and caught the ball, you'd take him. You can't turn down a guy like that."